Lee Sedol races ahead 2-0: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol jubango

The second game of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango got underway in Pinghu, on the outskirts of Shanghai, on February 23, 2014.


Lee Sedol 9 dan (pictured) takes a comfortable 2-0 lead in his 10 game match with Gu Li 9 dan.

In what can only be described as a very disappointing game for Gu Li 9p, Lee Sedol 9p snatched the game from the jaws of defeat in the late endgame, to win by half a point.

Lee Sedol now has a 2-0 lead in the best of 10 series, which will increase the pressure on Gu in game 3.

An Younggil 8p commented the game live for viewers at Baduk TV Live and a more detailed game commentary is coming soon.

Gu Li starts well

Gu Li, playing black, started the game with nice opening.

Black 27 showed Gu’s delicate sense of play, and he took the lead up to black 45.


Gu Li 9 dan got off to a good start playing black.

A failed attack reverses the game

Black 55 looked questionable, and white lived at the bottom fairly easily up to white 64.

Gu had been aiming at black 65 throughout the fight in the bottom left, but white 74 was a nice move, and black’s strategy proved unsuccessful.

White reversed the game up to 78.

A ko fight backfires on Lee

Black 93 was a nice way to attack white’s center group, after which white started a ko with 102-110.

However, it seems like Lee may not have anticipated black’s ko threat at 121, and the game became even again up to 129.


Lee Sedol (left) and Gu Li – Jubango, Game 2.

Gu regains the lead in the early endgame

White 142 was questionable, and black 143 was a big endgame move, after which black regained the lead.

The game was close, but black 169 was another good (sente) endgame move, and black was still leading up to 189.


Professional Go players analyze the game together. From left: Chang Hao, Joanne Missingham, Osawa Narumi and Xie Yimin.

Gu Li stumbles at the finish line

Black 209, 229, and 245 were mistakes, and black lost about 2-3 points because of them.

As a result, Lee Sedol was able to turn a probable half-point loss into a half-point win.

A painful result for Gu Li

This was a very painful defeat for Gu Li, because he lost a ‘won game’ right at the very end.

Gu will have to overcome this disappointment and regain his focus before the next match.

Fortunately, he has about five weeks to do so. Game 3 will be played in Chengdu on March 30, 2014.

More news and commentary are coming soon! Check our Lee Sedol – Gu Li jubango page, or subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates.

The MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango

Two of the world’s top Go players, Lee Sedol and Gu Li, will play a jubango throughout 2014, to decide which of them is the stronger player.

A jubango is a 10 game match between two players. The term originates from the Japanese language and has been imported into English language Go parlance. The first player to win six games wins the match.

The official name for this event is the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango. MLily is a mattress and bedding company that also sponsors the MLily Cup.

Go Game Guru is writing a book about this match and posting news and commentary about each game as it happens.

David Ormerod, with An Younggil 8p.

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol photos

Game record

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – Game 2


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


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About David Ormerod

David is a Go enthusiast who’s played the game for more than a decade. He likes learning, teaching, playing and writing about the game Go. He's taught thousands of people to play Go, both online and in person at schools, public Go demonstrations and Go clubs. David is a 5 dan amateur Go player who competed in the World Amateur Go Championships prior to starting Go Game Guru. He's also the editor of Go Game Guru.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. Was Gu Li in byo-yomi at the end? I hoped the extra time would stop him losing in endgame like this!

    • David Ormerod says:

      I didn’t see the clock, but the game had been going for well over eight hours by that point (and they didn’t stop for lunch). Judging by the pace of play, we assumed that they were both in byo-yomi during the endgame.

      According to Younggil, playing at 1 minute byo-yomi shouldn’t usually be a problem for top pros, and they rarely make mistakes due to time pressure.

      However, the commentators on Baduk TV did say that Park Younghun (who’s regarded as an endgame expert) has sometimes lost games to Lee Sedol in the endgame too. They said that Lee Sedol’s endgame isn’t always technically correct (in terms of points), but it’s fierce and he manages to complicate the game when he’s behind. A bit like Qiu Jun, I guess.

      So it wasn’t just time pressure, but also psychological pressure that Gu had to deal with. Imagine what it would be like trying to maintain your lead against Lee Sedol! 🙂

  2. great reporting, thanks!

  3. Sure goes to show that it’s not over until the fat lady sings.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Exactly. I think every Go player has had that experience.

      I’ve been supporting Lee, but I also really like Gu’s games and it was sad to see him lose like that.

      • Same here. I really like going over Gu’s games and somewhat root for him in this jubango, but Lee Sedol’s style has a resilience to it that you just have to respect.

  4. David Ormerod says:

    Also, I didn’t want to write this in the main article, but…

    There was an interview with Ni Zhanggen – the CEO of MLily (i.e. the sponsor, pictured here on the right) – during the broadcast. He mentioned in passing that he’d like to see the match go all the way to the end and that there’d been some discussion about what to do if it went to 5-5.

    Up until now, we thought the rules were that the prize money would be split 50/50 in that case, but Ni mentioned that they’re talking about the possibility of having three more games, with increased prize money, to decide the winner if that happens.

    He also made it clear that nothing’s been decided yet and that it’s just an idea. And he said that right now he just wants people to relax and enjoy the games. It sounds like they’ll deal with a 5-5 draw if it happens and it might depend on whether the players want to continue.

    Anyway, I think we should regard this as speculative at this point, but it would be nice to see more games.

    • Cool ! So first Gu Li has to come back to hope a draw.

      I would really like to watch 13 games between them, but it would be like a dream in a dream.

  5. If Lee wins the next game will Gu take a handicap? Or is that only I traditional Japanese Jubangos?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question.
      It’s different from the traditional Japanese Jubangos. There was no komi at that time, so they chose that extreme way to make it more exciting. However, Gu Li and Lee Sedol play even games, and there won’t be any handicap games even one keeps winning.

  6. No commentary this time?


  7. I knew 209 had to be a mistake, as it was the move I predicted he’d play. Up until then every move had been unexpected 🙂

    Still seems like the games are faster than would be ideal. Surely the psychological pressure would be reduced by allowing enough time to double check the reading and counting. At times watching yesterday it seemed like they were blitzing. Presumably they were sequences that had been read out already, but you’d have thought they’d use the time to consider other problems.

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, I agree that they had to play quickly when they were under the byoyomi situation. They’re under pressure, because every go player is watching on their games, and it causes them to make more simple mistakes in the endgame I think.

  8. A question to An not directly related to this game: In this serie players have more thinking time than they usually have in Korea (and in China?) but can the difference be seen in the quality of the game or in what kind of game these turn out to be?

    • Younggil An says:

      I think the quality of the games in this series are about the same as their games in the past. These two have been the top quite a while, and the quality of the games between them were always excellent. If the time limit is longer like 8 hours, they’d play more cautiously, and the game might be less exciting, because they have enough time to count accurately, and punish aggressive moves I think.
      I hope my answer does make sense.

      • Yes it did, thank you. Another question about this subject that came to my mind: Can you one or a couple games that you think has the best quality? As few mistakes and as small mistakes as possible or the highest amount of great moves or something like that.
        Sorry about offtopic 🙂

        • Younggil An says:

          I can’t judge which is the best quality, but a game with the highest amount of great moves would be more interesting and fun to watch than a game as few and small mistakes. 🙂

  9. Waiting for Younggil ‘s commented game 🙂


  10. If anyone is interested, I translated an article on Tygem about this match:

    Please note that I am not the original author of the content; the article link and original author can be found via the reference at the end of the document.

  11. I was so much hoping a Gu Li victory !

    I hope he’s gonna win at least 3 in a row after that 🙂

  12. Crystal Shepard says:

    I am very much a fan of Lee Sedol, and find myself rooting for him. But, like in the Superbowl, an easy win doesn’t make for the best game. When I stop and reflect what I really want is more interesting and excellent games of go out there.

    Perhaps it makes me less than a purist, though, that I’d prefer slightly flawed hard-fought games with brilliant turnarounds to “mistake free” games that plod inevitably to a half point win.

    Also, mistakes are a chance for us all to learn. At this level mistakes are rarely clearly mistakes to me, at least until they are pointed out and explained, and I doubt I’m alone.

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, I agree that easy win would less fun to watch. They played huge fighting and the game became very close at the end in their past games, and that’s really amazing. It’s very hard to point out the mistakes without any explanation, so you’re right. 🙂

  13. Christopher Rodgers says:

    I am looking forward to the book you guys at Go Game Guru are going to publish with all of the Jubango game reviews.